Co-parenting is no cakewalk and even the most level-headed parents can be overwhelmed by it. When it’s not issues regarding money, it’s problems with conflicting rules or approaches to parenting. Things become worse when children start playing parents off against each other. Being a co-parent means that you’ll have to face a whole variety of challenges you weren’t prepared for or couldn’t even imagine. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges of co-parenting and how to overcome them.
Negative Comments About The Other Parent
Speaking negatively about your ex-partner to your children is one of the best ways to destroy their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. They see each of their parents as a part of themselves, and when you speak badly about their other parent, they take it personally. This then makes them question how much they can trust you as a parent, and how much they can trust themselves.
If you have an issue with your co-parent, then speak to them directly. Don’t think you’re winning points with your child by making the other parent look bad. Instead, try to talk positively about the other parent as much as you can, even if they’re the one who started having a go at you. With time, your children will start noticing that the bad talk is only coming from one side and may start siding with you.
Co-parenting is already difficult, but it becomes worse when one of the parents happens to live far away or has to routinely travel for long periods. Some parents may have no choice but to move to a different country, city, or state to fulfill professional obligations. Or they may have found love with another partner and have to relocate to another area to pursue their new relationship.
Either way, you will have to put systems in place to still be a parent to your child and make sure that they have easy access to you whenever they need it. Young children deal very poorly with uncertainty, so you will need to have clear guidelines for when they can contact you and set up a schedule for phone or video conversations. Having a set schedule and sticking to it will make them feel more secure and allow you to keep tabs on what’s happening with them.
You also have to be emotionally available to your children. The first step is sticking to your word and being there for them as promised for your calls. You also shouldn’t assume that they are OK because all of their financial needs are meant.
You need to take some time to ask your children how they’re feeling at the moment and if any issues are bothering them. Don’t always try to solve every situation or give them advice, even if you think you have the answer. Just let them know that they are free to express their feelings and that they won’t be judged for them.
If you want a few more long distance parenting tips, we suggest you check out this article by Ensemble. They run down some ways that you can keep a close relationship with your children if you have to relocate or are on the go constantly. They give tips on how to sync visitation schedules more easily, for instance, and give a few suggestions for tools that you can use to facilitate every aspect of long distance parenting. You can also download the app to track shared expenses.
This is an issue that can seem minor at first glance but can easily descend into chaos and cause a rift between co-parents. If one parent lets the children stay up until ten and the other until nine, try to see if you can agree to the more lenient time or meet down the middle. Going for the more severe bedtime could be a mistake as your children may start blaming the parent who enforced it.
You could also simply keep the rules as they are and tell the child that it’s how it’s going to be. This might actually be beneficial to them as they will learn to adapt to different rules in different environments.
Lack of Control
Relinquishing control on what your child or your co-parent is doing when you’re not present can be unnerving for many parents. The only solution here is to accept that it’s the reality from now on. The only thing you can control is you. The best thing you can do is to try to have as cordial a relationship as possible with the other parent. This way, you’ll at least be able to have discussions and reach a middle ground on important issues.
Nobody said co-parenting is easy, but there are definitely things you can do to make it easier. Be prepared for the challenges that come with it and focus on building a cooperative relationship with your co-parent for the sake of everybody.